Botany Quiz: How many times during its life does a biennial plant flower?

There are a total of 729 votes:

(353 votes, 48%)
Red dot

(187 votes, 25%)
Red dot

Many times
(183 votes, 25%)
Red dot

(6 votes, 0%)
Red dot

Previous Polls

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

Methinks this could be interpreted two ways . . . a biennial plant often produces many flowers during one long flowering period. Think of e.g. a Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) producing 100 flowers sequentially over two or three weeks. Has it flowered once, or a hundred times?


Highland, MD(Zone 7a)

Resin I was thinking that too!

Springfield, OH(Zone 6a)

YAY! I finally got one right! See, Daves Garden is making me smarter! Just one more reason to love it here!

Davenport, IA(Zone 5a)


Guess it might be misconstrued as a trick question, but it's not, really.

I do love the way many biennials produce seed consistantly enough over time, that they start to seem more of a perennial.

I try never to take that fact for granted, tho- or sure enough, nothings there the next year. Sometimes, a little "help" is needed by doing some hand broadcasting of fresh seed every few years, here in my area. :-)


Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

I think they are saying one season, not just 1 bloom and it croaks.


Dallas, TX(Zone 8a)

Difficult question. Dianthus (pinks) are labeled biennial by gardening books. My experience is that dianthus will live 2-3 years blooming repeatedly spring, summer, and fall.

Questa, NM(Zone 5b)

Yippie! I got it right!

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

I got it wrong. I thought they only bloomed once every two years. But pre-DG, I would not have even understood the terms in the question!

xxx, Carrie

Westbrook, CT(Zone 6a)

Biennials take two years to bloom
Then set their seed--a flowery doom.
'Tis worth the wait, these plants imply,
To spread such beauty, 'fore they die!

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

A garden poet among us! :-)
Site some more... I love poetry on topics that I am interested in.


Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I'm saying many times because all of the supposedly biennial plants that I've ever planted have turned themselves into perennials in my yard. Maybe they'll be short lived ones, but the same plants have definitely bloomed again for a couple years in a row. I know that's not the technically correct answer, but that's been my experience.

Questa, NM(Zone 5b)

You go Don!! I love your poems.

Boxford, MA(Zone 6a)

Isn't the definition of a biennial that it has a 2 year bloom cycle? If it blooms each of 2 years and dies, it would be a short-lived perennial-- just a thought.

Lenexa, KS(Zone 6a)

Don you brought a smile to my face! And such a dreary rain-soaked day here. ty

Oak Lawn, IL(Zone 5a)

My "barnyard hollyhocks" are biennials. They don't bloom the first year. The same plant doesn't return after blooming during its second season.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Love the poetry too!

I planted french hollyhocks which were supposed to be a biennial. They bloomed both the first year and the 2nd?????

DG is also teaching me spelling too.
Biennial ~ foliage ~ and I am sure there are more I have learned here... LOL

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Got it right, although I wanted to go with never. I do know that I have had hollyhocks flower from seed their first year and flower from the same plants the next year.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Thank you BC Al ~ it wasn't a figment of my imagination...

Toledo, OH(Zone 6a)

I had to look it up!

I was surprised to see hollyhocks on the list. Others on the list in wikipedia are parsley, Lunaria, silverbeet, sweet William, colic weed, carrot, pansy, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, parsley, and Swiss chard. "Plant breeders have produced annual cultivars of several biennials that will flower the first year from seed, e.g. foxglove, stock, and hollyhock.'

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Most of these things are probably affected by the climate. A biennial would have to go through a freeze cycle to be true. It would grow from seed, freeze down in the fall & grow again the next summer & produce it's flower & seeds. Most biennials reseed themselves, ie, Hollyhocks.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

My black hollyhocks bloomed last year beautifully last year, and they are loaded in buds right now too. So are they biennials, or have they decided to be perennials here?

Thumbnail by ButterflyChaser
Questa, NM(Zone 5b)

Wow, they are gorgeous!

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Were they planted as seed last year ?
If they were started plants, they do weird things.

Fayetteville, NC(Zone 8a)

Hey BC--I think your black hollyhocks are the same as mine, which are Nigra. I should say "were". They did not come back this year for the first time in four or five years. So.....if they are biennials, did they just not reseed themselves? None of my hollyhocks came back this year and they were all started at different times.

This message was edited May 7, 2007 9:21 PM

Thumbnail by 1gardengram
Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

Many Vegies are biennials Paul

Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

I knew this one...why? Because I have those @#%$ biennial yellow primroses taking over my yard. I'm still kicking myself for that one. So much for pretty wildflowers.

Southern, CT(Zone 6a)

QueenB, Do you have primrose or evening primrose? Sounds like evening primrose and that comes as annual, biennial, or perennial. The biennials are tall (4 feet). The perennials are short (6-10 inches).

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Gardengram - my black ones took 2 years from seed to flower, the ones that flowered their first year I think were the Chatter's line? My hollyhocks stay green under the snow all winter is how I know they are not new plants that flower.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

My hollyhocks are Nigra. I got tons of seeds from them last year and left a few to fall on the ground. So I have a new generation beginning. I also had this uncommon black one. Unlike Nigra, it has petaloids in the center which give it almost a double look. It too is now loaded with buds again.

Thumbnail by ButterflyChaser
Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

Ah yes... fond memories of zone 5 gardening: my garden was comprised of toxic, invasive and large-to-very-large plants. My favourite biennials were foxglove in the toxic category and dipsacus laciniatus (cut-leaf teasel).

For a while there, I couldn't get the foxglove to reseed itself until someone from the botanical garden mentionned that a bed of gravel at the base of the plants would improve the seeds' chances of germinating and showing up the year after. It worked.

The cut-leaf teasel was a notorious invasive and quite large at 7 feet. It didn't need any help. I have moved but this plants' seeds have taken over many a hedge and badly maintained garden.

In the extremely toxic plant department, I featured heracleum mantegazzianum. Suffice it to say that after planting that, I told the grass contractor not to go into the garden any more.

Oh, how I miss that garden but it's OK because now I'm in zone 10-B and I'm having the time of my life with all those tropicals and exotics.


Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

Mine are the ones that grow wild around here and form what looks like a small shrub or tree. They can get quite leggy. It takes them two years to bloom. They make a nice bunch of bushy plants the first year, then lovely bushes with yellow flowers the next, but for the rest of your life you will be digging the seedlings out of your yard.

Beautiful, BC(Zone 8b)

So, Snapdragons are biennial but they bloom in first and second year???

Northumberland, United Kingdom(Zone 9a)

My black hollyhocks bloomed last year beautifully last year, and they are loaded in buds right now too. So are they biennials, or have they decided to be perennials here?

I'd say that's fairly normal - many (if not most) hollyhocks are better called short-lived perennials, not biennials.


Oak Lawn, IL(Zone 5a)

Resin, some (perhaps many or even most) hollyhocks are indeed short lived perennials. My barnyard variety, though, are biennials. My first year plants stay green during the winter and then bloom the following season, and then die.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I find that if you deadhead promptly (campanula medium, for example) they will bloom for 2-3 years.

L.A. (Canoga Park), CA(Zone 10a)

Some things that are biennial (or whatever) in their native climate may behave differently in other climates. Also, what the nursery trade markets as something ("annual", for example) may behave differently in its native climate or outside of what seems to be the gardening standard climates, i.e. zones 4 through 8.

Rosamond, CA(Zone 8b)

I guessed that maybe it bloomed every other year for a life time. I didn`t have a clue though. I just wanted to see what it was.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I'm a newbie so I thought it bloomed every 2 years. I didn't realize they died! I was wondering where my foxgloves were this year.
Now I have to plant something in that space.

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

I said once, but that is a very ambiguous question. If you plant them in the fall you will get flowers by spring (in two seasons)....not two years.....also many reseed so can continue to bloom for years......(I think I am right but I'm usually wrong) LOL

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